A few years ago, they were all the rage. Simple blue shirts with the words West and Virginia separated by a touch of vulgarity.
Now the university's athletic director is trying to put whoever made the things out of business and get anyone who purchased them to make use of their investment as a rag instead.
In an open letter to all fans of the Mountaineers, Oliver Luck points out that the shirts, which read "West F***** Virginia," made it onto national television during WVU's win over Marshall.
Perhaps this was the final straw. I have seen the shirt in daily life around campus and even as far away as my hometown grocery store in Maryland, where children are just as likely to roam the aisles as anyone else.
As part of WVU's newly adapted "High Five" system on game days, vulgar language is not allowed. Apparently some of those who see the rule believe it only applies to spoken words, but that is obviously not the case.
There are a number of shirts in college football venues that utilize obscenities and are seen as being pretty clever in doing so. But honestly, throwing in a word that you wouldn't want your child or probably even your grandparents seeing isn't really the most genius idea anyone has had.
The person who initially made these shirts may have been trying to emphasize the fact that West Virginia is its own state, which far too many Americans seem unable to comprehend. But there's another shirt out there that does the job in a much more elegant manner, using "West By God Virginia" rather than throwing out the f-bomb.
In my days as a college student, I may have found these shirts entertaining, but now, I agree with Luck. For his entire letter, read below:
During the opening game of the 2011 WVU football season, one of the ESPN cameras showed a young man wearing a blue t-shirt with "West F##### Virginia" on the chest. Based on the TV rating of the game, this picture was seen by at least a few million people around the country. I think you would agree with me that this is not the image of our University and our state that we want to promote.
I would like to ask you to help me convince people who are wearing these t-shirts to reconsider their choice of attire. I recognize that the First Amendment protects free speech, and as a lawyer, I am more than familiar with the decision of the United States Supreme Court in the landmark 1971 case, Cohen vs. California, which is the law of the land regarding public institutions (like WVU) and protected speech. But as my dad used to tell me, ‘just because it is legal does not mean it is right.' And I certainly believe that people wearing these offending t-shirts at Mountaineer games, or anywhere else, for that matter, are damaging the reputation of our state and its flagship institution of higher learning.
I would like to request that if you see someone wearing one of these t-shirts that you politely ask him or her to change or to cover it up. Even wearing it inside-out would be an improvement. As you know, we have a big home football game against LSU coming up next Saturday and we would like to present a more favorable image to the millions of football fans from around the country who will be watching the game. Be polite, be courteous, be friendly-but do speak up.
Thank you for your support of the Mountaineers!